Your Online Identity Can Now Be Your Worst Enemy

A possible breakthrough in technology can prove your online identity as your soon-to-be worst enemy.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are assessing more efficient ways of tracking individuals. What do they  have in mind? Assessing the consequence of an app that has to do with facial recognition and cloud-based data.

The idea of cloud-based data is just data acquired from the Internet. Their practices support the blending of a person’s “offline identity and online identity.” In their study, funded by the National Science Foundation under the US Army Research Office, they aim to combine both facial recognition technology and information that can be found on the Internet. This means that in a matter of seconds, this software will be able to pick up an image from someone on the street, search it through the ridiculously large database of information that the Internet provides, and find out any necessary information of an individual. This includes the pictures/information you have on Facebook, as well as information you may have on major organization websites. Keep in mind that this software can only be but so accurate, so this information is only for possible matches that the facial recognition picks up. Through some of their research, they were able to track people on a college campus to their online identities.

One possible issue this app faces is finding hardware to hold this amount of information. With the information people upload to the internet, there is a growing need for hardware that can support all of the information that they might be interested in.

What we need to worry as cyber-security interest-seekers, is the opportunity such an app can bring to cyber criminals. Some people may argue, as written in the article, that if you have something you do not want the world to know, you should not release such information in the internet. However, this app is not just attracting information that users themselves post, but information that might be available from organizational events to which a person might have attended or even that organization’s database of documented information. Is it not alarming that with certain algorithms CMU’s app can obtain a person’s Social Security Number? This may also bring up an issue with citizens who feel their exclusive rights of privacy are being violated.

These questions remain:

-What additional benefits would this facial recognition have to the ones already in existence?

-Can this be a breakthrough to malicious identity thefts?

Site Referenced:
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/09/cloud-powered-facial-recognition-is-terrifying/245867/

Learn more from the University’s Research Page:
http://www.cmu.edu/homepage/society/2011/summer/facial-recognition.shtml
http://www.heinz.cmu.edu/~acquisti/face-recognition-study-FAQ/

Other Resourceful Links:
http://www.facebook.com/RITInfosec

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One thought on “Your Online Identity Can Now Be Your Worst Enemy

  1. You mention that people need advanced hardware to store all this data and who has greatest finances and will to build and maintain this, other then the government. They’ve show time and time again that they have no problem stretching their powers to max (patriot act) to spy or find out what they want to know on whoever.

    Imagine this technology being used in London, the most heavily monitored city in the world with their CCTV system. It could be used to automatically track someone through their whole day.

    It just makes me wonder when we as a society will ever revolt against the loss of anonymity since the advance of technology or if this is even something we could ever gain back.

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